At MacRoberts, we are proud to have colleagues from a wide range of cultural backgrounds working across the business. Our recent food festival, held in our Edinburgh and Glasgow offices, was a great opportunity to bring staff together and learn more about different cultures and culinary traditions around the world.
In addition to the traditional Scottish delicacies of tablet and shortbread, some of our colleagues shared details of some of their favourite dishes from countries and cultures around the world.
Mousse de Maracuja (Passion Fruit Mousse)
Provided By: Yasmin Seoane, People & Development Administrator
Passion fruit is very popular in Brazil, and it is really easy to find passion fruit products in Brazil (e.g. passion fruit juice, ice-cream, chocolate, vodka etc.). Personally, it is one of the foods I miss the most as it can be difficult to find passion fruit here in Scotland!
The passion fruit mousse is a classic Brazilian dessert, but it was when I met my husband’s family that I fell in love with it as they have it for dessert every Sunday with a German tart (which is actually a Brazilian tart, but that’s a story for another day!).
Provided By: Agne Zasinaite, Associate
Honey cake is popular throughout countries of the former Soviet Union, particularly at celebrations and festive events. The story goes that it became popular after Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna, fell in love with the cake after a newly hired chef cooked it to impress her, despite having no idea she despised the taste of honey. It is made by layering baked dough sheets and cream frosting. It is popular at all festive celebrations and we often make one for Christmas!
Matza with butter and cream cheese
Provided By: Jenna Alexander, Trainee Solicitor
Matza is unleavened bread which can be eaten dry or with a variety of toppings. Matza serves as a reminder of the slavery the Jewish people endured while in Egypt. When the slaves were freed,
they planned on bringing bread for their treacherous journey, but the bread did not have time to rise before Moses arrived to lead them out of slavery. Although matza is traditionally eaten at Passover, it is also eaten year-round as a meal or delicious snack.
Soda Bread (and smoked salmon)
Provided By: Eleanor Mannion, Senior Associate
Soda bread is a staple in most houses in Ireland and it frustrates me to no end that it's not widely available here! It's fairly easy to make – all the ingredients are mixed together and then baked in the oven. It doesn't require yeast to rise so no proving necessary. Instead, the plain and wholemeal flours are mixed with bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk to create the rise. Once the bread is ready to go in the oven, you take a knife and score a cross on the top, both to bless the bread and let the fairies out.
Soda bread is a great snack/lunch option – serve with blackcurrant jam and cup of tea for a sweet option or black pudding and cup of tea for a savoury option. I've gone for the traditional smoked salmon to incorporate Scotland into this tasty snack.
Jewish Penicillin (Matzo Ball Chicken Soup)
Provided By: Richard Taylor, Solicitor
Origin: Passed down the generations by Grandmothers everywhere!
Jewish penicillin is the dish for whatever ails ye'. It's a traditional clear chicken soup with a matzo ball kneidlach dumpling. Carrots and celery balance the savoury base with a hint of sweetness. The kneidlach and lokshen (noodles) add a hearty edge and will keep you going all day.
It's famous the world over and is a staple in most New York delis and kosher restaurants. It's not the only chicken soup in the world, but it's probably the tastiest.
Šakotis (tree cake)
Provided By: Agne Zasinaite, Associate
Šakotis is a regular staple of Lithuanian cakes and desserts and it is often made up to one metre in length – it is something I used to enjoy eating as a child, breaking the "tree" bits off while drinking tea by the fire. It is made from a simple mixture of eggs, sugar, flour, butter and sour cream. Although the cake can be very large, it is hollow – this is due to its baking technique, which requires you to pour the dough over a special cylinder, attached to a huge spit over an open flame.
Provided By: Rupa Mooker, Director of People & Development
Origin: Indian subcontinent
Gulab Jamun are a very popular sweet from the Indian subcontinent and are often referred to as 'Indian doughnuts'. They are fried dumplings, traditionally made from milk solids which are then soaked in a syrup made from sugar, rose water and cardamom.
The name comes from two words. Gulab means "rose" and refers to the rose syrup. Jamun is deep-purple-coloured Indian berry, which the dark brown dumplings resemble after they're cooked. Gulab Jamun can be served warm or at room temperature and can be topped or filled with a variety of extras to make them even more exceptional (cream, chopped pistachios, desiccated coconut etc.) .
We usually only have these as a treat in our house due to the calorific content, and either eat them with a hot cup of masala (spiced) tea or heat them up and eat them with vanilla ice cream as a dessert!
Fazer chocolates (Geisha & Dumle) (chocolate = suklaa in Finnish)
Provided By: Camilla Horneman, Solicitor
There is no story as such behind the treats, but I had to provide Finnish chocolate given, in my opinion, it's the best chocolate in the world! In addition to rye bread, Fazer chocolate is what I miss the most about Finland in terms of food.
Fazer is one of the largest corporations in the Finnish food industry. It was founded by Karl Fazer in 1891, as a "French-Russian confectionary" in central Helsinki. Its products are exported to almost 40 countries.
Tablet (or taiblet in Scots) is a medium-hard, melt-in-the-mouth confection from Scotland.
Scottish tablet has a long history, first noted in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie in the early 18th century. The traditional recipe used just sugar and cream. In our recipe, we have substituted condensed milk and butter for the cream, as it has a tendency to burn when boiled. Scottish Tablet is often flavoured with vanilla, whisky or nuts.
Most commercially available Scottish tablet uses fondant instead of the milk products, and added preservatives to prolong shelf life.
Tablet is occasionally referred to as Scottish or Scots tablet or as Swiss Milk tablet, since some people call condensed milk "Swiss Milk".
The history of shortbread goes back to at least the 12th century and originally started life as a medieval 'biscuit bread'. Any leftover dough from bread-making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word "biscuit" means "twice cooked". Gradually, the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.
Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. In Shetland, it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun. In Scotland, it is still traditionally offered to "first footers" at New Year.
The large amount of butter is what makes shortbread short: the term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly, like shortcrust pastry should be. It is the reason why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.
Shortbread has been attributed to Mary Queen of Scots who, in the mid-16th century, was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread originally flavoured with caraway seeds.Find out more about Life at MacRoberts